A terrified woman is killed inventively. Welcome to Scandinavia; or, at least, welcome back to the land of the Scandi-drama. The victim is Margrethe Thormod, the head of Denmark’s Immigration Board, and she’s been buried up to her neck under a bridge – actually, under The Bridge – and stoned to death. It seems likely that the killer’s MO is significant, although as yet we don’t know exactly why.
The investigation is led by our old friend Henrik Sabroe, returning from season 3, and still haunted – literally – by his missing children. Henrik quickly discovers that Margrethe’s organisation was the subject of unwelcome public scrutiny when her colleagues were surreptitiously filmed toasting, with champagne, the successful deportation to Iran of Taariq Shirazi, a gay man who claimed he would be executed if sent back. Executed, maybe, by stoning…? Shirazi is now in hiding with a warrant out for his arrest, although by tracing Margrethe’s last known journey – to a gay bar – Henrik locates him. Shirazi, however, evades capture.
Henrik, meantime, is doing all of this without Saga. So where is she? Well, she’s in prison, awaiting sentencing for killing her mother, and coping “not very well”, according to Henrik. Which is hardly surprising: on top of everything else, being forced into close proximity with a lot of strangers is probably Saga’s worst nightmare. Given that she has to cope with one inmate who’s inside for multiple cop-killing, and another with a somewhat suffocating interest in her, the occasional conjugal visit from Henrik is unlikely to be much compensation. Also, she’s not actually guilty. Henrik tries to get her to assist with the case – partly, one infers, to keep her distracted; partly because he could actually use the help – but she declines, on the not unreasonable basis that she’s not a police officer any more.
As ever with The Bridge’s season-openers, new characters are flung at us with startling frequency and rapidity. In fairness, my interest was piqued by most of them. (I may have some of these names wrong. I’m doing my best.) Margrethe’s husband Niels collapses on hearing of his wife’s death, and is accompanied everywhere by his PA Susanne, who he’s probably shagging. Taxi driver Dan dropped Margrethe at the bar. He has an alibi, but as we discover he also has a history of violence: his wife and son, Sofie and Christoffer, are in hiding from him, although he finds them and terrorises them anew. Christoffer gets him to leave by brandishing a knife at him. One of them isn’t going to survive the season, I’d say.
There are twins Richard and Patrik (both played by Pontus T. Pager): the former is a smug reporter, and the latter is happy to pretend to be his higher-profile brother to get women into bed. Richard is contacted by mysterious pressure group Red October, who campaigned against Shirazi’s deportation, but the meeting doesn’t go ahead. There’s the bearish proprietor of the bar where Shirazi was hiding. And what was the deal with the police officer (?), and his… wife? Mother? Landlady? A definite whiff of the League of Gentlemen about those two.
Best of all, there’s Mikael Birkkjær – who was the magnificent Philip in Borgen, and Ulrik in Forbrydelsen – as Henrik’s Swedish partner Jonas, with attitudes to race, gender, and sexuality which could have come from a show about a Scandinavian Gene Hunt. Life on Lars, if you will.
So it’s an enjoyable but busy opening episode, and I’m very glad that we’re only getting one Bridge per week. The final scene, though, in which Saga learns that her conviction has been overturned, but is REDACTED by a fellow inmate before she can leave prison, isn’t ideal: we need Saga on the outside and in the field.